It's with great sadness that I write this blog, losing someone like Chelo, but I wanted to write something. I first met her in August 2016, pulling up in my old Corsa outside the hotel Tres Luces and there she was, this tiny pocket rocket of a lady smiling, laughing, overwhelmingly friendly. She'd actually directed me to the hotel on the phone, as my satnav died an hour out of Vigo. I just about managed to navigate the one-way maze that is the city centre to the hotel, following my non-stop 24 hour journey by car from Liverpool. During my first few weeks in Spain, Chelo helped us (the 17 people I started with) settle in. She took us round every office to get every piece of paperwork you could imagine. In the evenings, she took us for drinks and tapas. She helped me find a flat. She really brought the group together. We all got to know each other really well. Without her, I doubt I'd have some of the amazing friends I have now, even people I haven't spoken to for ages who I consider part of this family. She played a big part in creating that.
One of my funniest Chelo stories was in 2017, when I was teaching and she came to my room and said "There's an urgent parcel that you need to pick up at the local govt office". I was really worried, I thought interpol were coming for me! On a genuine level though, I wondered what the Spanish authorities wanted me for! It just so happened this was a fancy dress day and Chelo was dressed as a viking lady. I was in my work clothes. Anyway, when we arrived at the office, the guys there were very confused to see this tiny woman dressed as a Viking. They were even more confused and intrigued when they handed me the package which was in fact my divorce certificate that they needed me to clarify I had received (delivered by my ex wife). Of course, they believed Chelo was my ex wife and i'd divorced her for wearing viking clothes all the time or she'd divorced me for being so "normal". They kept asking her questions in Spanish. I think she insisted she wasn't my ex wife, but it was a memorable day to say the least. Of course, she insisted we take this photograph to remind ourselves of the madness.
It's people like Chelo who light up rooms. You knew when she was there, because she was always doing something! When we had house parties, she'd be dancing around (or jumping on) people (especially James). At 4.15pm most working days, she'd turn up in my classroom looking very professional asking for my paper registers with her headset on, always on the edge of laughing about something. She always made people smile, whether it be a "look" or a smile or a joke, or whatever - there was never a quiet moment with Chelo. Before I left Spain, she drove me to another administra